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AstroMum

Finding the right star with GOTO

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Hope someone can give me some advice, I'm starting to pull my hair out. :)

When doing the 3-star alignment on my skywatcher 'scope, I usually have no trouble finding two of the stars. However, one of them is always to the north or west and I can't tell which star in my viewfinder is the right one or even if I'm in the right area. They're just never as bright or obvious as say, Sirius.

This evening, the handset has picked a bunch of stars in Ursa Major for me. I can see the key stars in the big dipper perfectly with the naked eye, but when looking for the relevant one in the 'scope, there are just too many visible!

Does anyone have any tips for ensuring the right star is picked and how to know if the one I'm after is even in the viewfinder? From the position of the 'scope, I seem to be in the right area, but who knows!

Edited by AstroMum

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I think this is why a red dot type finder comes in useful - the 50mm optical finder presents too much information in some ways !

With the red dot on the star you are after there is no doubt and the RDF shows the sky the same way up that your eyes do too.

Edited by John

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Ahhh... yes, I can see why that would work better. Might have to invest in one if I keep failing with my current arrangement.

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I'm new to this so invested in a iphone app that displays the stars and their names in relation to your position, only 69p.

Going to try this to setup my goto on my skywatcher 127 mak on Monday as clear skies are promised - let you know if it works.

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A red dot finder really helps

When you find the rght star, it is usually blatently obvious like this:

85ab3451b192d1be80d4a99354ab55ab.jpg

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Is there not an option to change the alignment star(s) ?

Just thinking that you could select one that is relatively isolated, then the alignment star is the bright one hopefully in the field of view.

You are using the lowest power eyepiece?

Just gives the widest view and hopefully the star you want is the brightest and in view.

Does mean you have to have an idea of several isolate stars, but looking at a sky maps should enable you to identify enough.

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For alignment I allways pick my own stars - and they are ones that I know and can see naked eye so I know exactly where to point. I allways choose bright stars that stand out in their surroundings and become obvious in the finder. As John says a decent quality red dot finder is very helpful :)

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I'm new to this so invested in a iphone app that displays the stars and their names in relation to your position, only 69p.

Going to try this to setup my goto on my skywatcher 127 mak on Monday as clear skies are promised - let you know if it works.

I have SkySafari on my iphone which I'd be completely lost without. Trouble is, when you're looking so close-up at a group of stars, it can still be difficult to work out what's what.

A red dot finder really helps

When you find the rght star, it is usually blatently obvious like this:

85ab3451b192d1be80d4a99354ab55ab.jpg

That's how Sirius stands out, nice and clear. Wish the ones in Ursa Major did, though I did finally fund Dubhe and the fact that it's red made it more obvious.

Is there not an option to change the alignment star(s) ?

Just thinking that you could select one that is relatively isolated, then the alignment star is the bright one hopefully in the field of view.

You are using the lowest power eyepiece?

Just gives the widest view and hopefully the star you want is the brightest and in view.

Does mean you have to have an idea of several isolate stars, but looking at a sky maps should enable you to identify enough.

I think there is an option to change them, yes. Will look into that tomorrow.

I'm using a 2" 42mm wide-angle eyepiece - if I'm going to be able to see a simple star, that should do the trick!

At least I'm becoming more familiar with stars in parts of the sky I don't usually pay attention to. :(

That looks rather handy, thank you! :)

For alignment I allways pick my own stars - and they are ones that I know and can see naked eye so I know exactly where to point. I allways choose bright stars that stand out in their surroundings and become obvious in the finder. As John says a decent quality red dot finder is very helpful :mad:

Looks like I'm going to be buying a red dot finder for sure then. :p I'm also going to have a look at the synscan settings and see if it will allow me more choice.

Thanks for your help everybody!

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Looks like I'm going to be buying a red dot finder for sure then. :) I'm also going to have a look at the synscan settings and see if it will allow me more choice.

I find the Rigel QuikFinder really good. I think you can scroll through the list of alignment stars by using the scroll buttons, bottom left and right on the handset.

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That's how Sirius stands out, nice and clear. Wish the ones in Ursa Major did, though I did finally fund Dubhe and the fact that it's red made it more obvious.

First time I ever tried to align, I had great difficulty looking at the Stallarium and star charts, trying to work out which of the stars in the EP was the one I was meant to be centring on, mentally trying to adjust left/right and up/down, but when I actually managed to do it properly it was as obvious as in the picture I posted - and that includes using stars from the Plough (the only constellation I knew).

Using a cheap RDF to make sure it is in the EP in the first place helps, but usually it is anyway if the mount is fairly level, started in the home position and a widefield EP is used.

After saying all that - using EQMOD and a netbook is much easier than using the handpiece. Set up Elbrus on it with a CCD and you're laughing.

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I find the Rigel QuikFinder really good. I think you can scroll through the list of alignment stars by using the scroll buttons, bottom left and right on the handset.
You can use the up and down arrows on the bottom of the keypad to select different stars for alignment.

:0)

Dani

Ahh.... I've been doing that, was hoping there was a way I could pick stars from the entire database. It's always the second star that gets me, I never have trouble with the first and third.

Managed to align with Capella this evening, rather than one from Ursa Major.

First time I ever tried to align, I had great difficulty looking at the Stallarium and star charts, trying to work out which of the stars in the EP was the one I was meant to be centring on, mentally trying to adjust left/right and up/down, but when I actually managed to do it properly it was as obvious as in the picture I posted - and that includes using stars from the Plough (the only constellation I knew).

Using a cheap RDF to make sure it is in the EP in the first place helps, but usually it is anyway if the mount is fairly level, started in the home position and a widefield EP is used.

After saying all that - using EQMOD and a netbook is much easier than using the handpiece. Set up Elbrus on it with a CCD and you're laughing.

I've just started using SkySafari on my ipad with the Skywire cable to control the scope. Makes it much easier having a visual representation of the sky, but unfortunately it requires alignment with the Synscan handset first.

Wish I hadn't sold my netbook a few months ago, it would have come in very handy for this sort of thing.

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I am quite amazed that there are several stars that aren't really that bright at all and astounded that Alcyone is there considering that it is part of a significant cluster of stars. I guess stars like Vega, Capella, Arcturus, Betelgeuse, Spica, Altair and so on should be fairly easy to pick out.

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The reason it doesn't let you pick from the entire database is cos when you put the time, timezone, lat and long in the setup screen, it works out what's up and restricts your selection to only stars above the horizon for you :)

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Becky, it has, I seem to remember been mentioned before, but a 1mw green laser pointer directed through the finder will show you where you are in the night sky, maybe a cheaper solution than a good RDF :)

John.

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Green laser is a good tip :)

Telrads (if you can lay your hands on one) are really great too. You even have a Telrad reticule option in some iPhone apps like Star Walk :(

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I am quite amazed that there are several stars that aren't really that bright at all and astounded that Alcyone is there considering that it is part of a significant cluster of stars. I guess stars like Vega, Capella, Arcturus, Betelgeuse, Spica, Altair and so on should be fairly easy to pick out.

Absolutely, some of them just aren't as prominent and it's very frustrating trying to find them!

The reason it doesn't let you pick from the entire database is cos when you put the time, timezone, lat and long in the setup screen, it works out what's up and restricts your selection to only stars above the horizon for you :)

That makes sense, I vaguely remember reading that the handset firmware is quite smart in selecting visible stars at a suitable distance from one another.

Becky, it has, I seem to remember been mentioned before, but a 1mw green laser pointer directed through the finder will show you where you are in the night sky, maybe a cheaper solution than a good RDF :(

John.

Green laser is a good tip :p

Telrads (if you can lay your hands on one) are really great too. You even have a Telrad reticule option in some iPhone apps like Star Walk :mad:

Thank you both for the green laser recommendation. Am going into town this afternoon so will see if I can pick one up. Otherwise I will order the one off Amazon for just over a fiver!

If it does the trick, I will certainly upgrade to something more suitable.

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I'm not familiar with your scope, but with my Celestron Goto mount I can use 1,2 or 3 star align. You don't need to find exact stars.

I put in the date and time then I basically centre a bright star in the ep and then align, then do the same for the next 2.

I use Polaris and then move east to the next brightest star and so on, the further apart the better.

The software then works out where the mount is, very clever stuff!

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I'm not familiar with your scope, but with my Celestron Goto mount I can use 1,2 or 3 star align. You don't need to find exact stars.

I put in the date and time then I basically centre a bright star in the ep and then align, then do the same for the next 2.

I use Polaris and then move east to the next brightest star and so on, the further apart the better.

The software then works out where the mount is, very clever stuff!

The Skywatcher handsets don't do this unfortunately, they tell you which star to align to. I had heard of Celestron's famous easy alignment process, but they didn't do the right 'scope for me.

Keep both eyes open when looking through the finder.

I've been trying this, but my eyes haven't got the hang of it yet! :)

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For alignment I allways pick my own stars - and they are ones that I know and can see naked eye so I know exactly where to point. I allways choose bright stars that stand out in their surroundings and become obvious in the finder. As John says a decent quality red dot finder is very helpful :)

I usually do the same or a quick solar system alighment (the Moon if its about orif not then a planet).

One star alignment i use Betelguese.

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not sure if you have an older type synscan,but the new version allows 1,2or 3 star align:cool:

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not sure if you have an older type synscan,but the new version allows 1,2or 3 star align:cool:

I have a recent version, I use the 3-star align as I haven't polar-aligned the scope. :)

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